‘The Stars Are Aligned’ – Kairat Akhmetov Eager For World Title Shot Against Demetrious Johnson
On May 5 at ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III, surging Kazakh star Kairat Akhmetov took a big step closer to regaining the ONE Flyweight MMA World Title.
Over the course of three intense rounds, #2-ranked Akhmetov brutalized #4-ranked Reece McLaren in a rematch of their 2019 contest, blending his elite wrestling with powerful striking to keep his foe on the defensive from bell to bell.
That sterling performance extended Akhmetov’s winning streak to six and his overall record to 30-2, further solidifying his status as the division’s next World Title challenger.
Looking back on the fight, the 35-year-old said he executed his strategy perfectly:
“Yes, I was able to show 120 percent of what we had been preparing at the gym with my sparring partners. Everything went according to plan. I am happy with the result.”
Unlike his first matchup with McLaren four years ago, Akhmetov leaned heavily on his Greco-Roman wrestling background to gradually wear down the Australian and open up striking opportunities in the later stages.
And weary of his foe’s elite submission skills, “The Kazakh” avoided danger on the mat as he imposed his formidable physicality and suffocating top game.
He told ONEFC.com:
“Our first bout was a stand-up fight. I thought that he was going to expect the same from me this time. So, we decided to outsmart him and wrestle more. As the fight went on, I worked on all fronts – switched from wrestling to stand-up when necessary.
“It looked like he was getting confused at some point. I realized that my physical strength and endurance would play to my advantage. He is a [BJJ] black belt, so I practiced how to hold on to the opponent preventing him from doing anything.”
Akhmetov Feels Ready For ‘Dream’ Matchup With Johnson
Now riding a winning streak that dates back to January 2018, Kairat Akhmetov has his sights set on MMA GOAT Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
The modern-day legend retained his ONE Flyweight World Title in the main event of ONE Fight Night 10, putting on a sensational showing against #1-ranked contender Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes.
According to Akhmetov, everything has fallen perfectly into place for him to land the biggest fight of his life – a ONE World Title shot against an all-time great:
“I’ve been waiting to fight for the title again for a long time, and I really wanted to face ‘Mighty Mouse’ in the cage, and now the stars are aligned. Everything’s going according to plan. If this fight happens, both of my dreams will come true – I’ll kill two birds with one stone.”
Just minutes after “Mighty Mouse’s” main event victory, Akhmetov joined him in the Circle for a tense staredown, potentially setting the stage for an epic World Title battle.
Afterward, “The Kazakh” said their interaction was simply a way to state his intention:
“I didn’t want to disrespect Demetrious. I came into the cage, congratulated him, told him he was a legend and that I didn’t want to take away his moment of glory. I stood there to show everyone that I was the real next challenger.”
For his part, Johnson is still unsure about his future as he mulls the possibility of retiring at 36 years old.
But whether it’s a dream-come-true fight against the icon or a World Title bout against any one of the flyweight division’s other dangerous contenders, Akhmetov is overwhelmed with pride as he climbs back toward the gold.
“When I look back, I see a long road I had to walk to reach the top again – something I couldn’t have even imagined for years. Now it’s real, it’s not a dream. I am already halfway there, and I am only one step away from writing a new chapter in my history, that will tell the whole world who the Kazakhs are. I am ready.”